Join the One True Club

In my post questioning if MormonISM is Christian I’ve been accused of being exclusionary for the purpose of leaving Mormons out of the club. I hope to explain why asking the question “Who is Christian?” or “What Churches are Christian?” is important to non-LDS Christians, Protestants in particular.

When I (and other Protestants) ask “is that church Christian?” we are really asking “Can I worship Jesus there?” We want to know if we can take communion and be in communion in that congregation. We want to know if their baptism is valid. We are seeking to understand what the most basic requirements are for Christianity so that we can JOIN together in worship. In answering “can I worship there?” we are including a group that numbers over 1.5 billion people. We are saying that the one true church includes all Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics.

Mormons are hurt by the snub, but it is the LDS church that is truly exclusionary. When the LDS church defines “the one true church” it leaves everyone else out. It says that all baptisms are invalid outside of the LDS church. It says that taking the sacrament is invalid everywhere outside the LDS church. It says that there is no priesthood authority outside the LDS church. In effect, the LDS church’s position that it is the one and only true church is saying that there is no true Christian worship outside of Mormonism.

The LDS church teaches that Mormons can not worship in spirit and in truth anywhere but within the LDS church. I, on the other hand, am saying that Christians can worship in spirit and truth in thousands of different churches.

My exclusivity leaves out the practice of 12 million Mormons. Mormon exclusivity leaves out the practice of 1.5 billion non-LDS Christians. Mormons like to say “you have truth, we have more” but that is not what the assertion of being the one true church means. It means that all other churches are false.

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18 thoughts on “Join the One True Club

  1. My understanding of it, and I could be wrong, but my understanding of it growing up was that they were “false” in that believing in them would not get you into the fullness of God’s love in the afterlife. My understanding of it always was that Christians would go to one of the other glories, terrestrial or telestial. Now, there were some RLDS that believed that good Christians would certainly go to the Celestial kingdom, and I never argued with them. The Evangelical Christians say that there are only two destinations, Heaven or Hell. No matter how good you are, if you’re not “born again” you go to Hell. If you’re not “born again” you’re not a Christian. The Mormons and RLDS do not say that non Mormons are not “Christian” we do not say that you are totally outside the realm of God’s love! It is just that you will not be included in the fullness of God’s love.

  2. Mormons can worship in other churches. I went to a Baptist church last week and had a good time worshiping with them. I think it is interesting that you include the Catholic Church (the largest Christian Church) as part of the overall Christian Church even though it doesn’t include protestant churches or any other church for that matter within the circle of the “one true church”. In fact the most recent declaration of the Pope sounds a lot like that of the LDS Church. How do you feel about the Pope’s most recent statement?

  3. Realize Dando, that the requirements for being a part of “Christianity” and being a part of the LDS Church are, for Mormons, two different things.

    I accept you as a genuine Christian, you need do nothing more than declare a sincere belief in Christ as Savior. That’s it. I think the vast majority of Mormons feel the same way.

    But to be a part of our faith, there certainly are requirements, and a great many of them.

    Now, as to whether you can take Communion, or Sacrament as we call it, at a Mormon service…

    Interesting question. I don’t think it would trouble me a great deal if you did. Yet, traditionally, I think it is probably discouraged. The Sacrament is commonly envisioned as an exclusively Mormon ordinance and I imagine there are members who would frown upon you taking the Sacrament if they knew you were not a baptized member of our Church.

    Most Mormons I know are not asking to have their baptisms be valid in your church. Nor do we wish the right to take Communion at your services. Since we do not offer these to outsiders, we do not expect it from them in turn.

    Yet, since we freely allow the label of Christian to all who desire it, I think many of us remain baffled why the label is denied to us.

    I think we are coming from very different paradigms here. If we can avoid finger-pointing and recriminations, we might get closer to the bottom of it.

  4. There is a distinction that I have been trying to make that I think is being lost. I’m not talking about whether or not an INDIVIDUAL is a Christian. I’ll even concede the word to you for the purpose of my argument.

    I am highlighting that you don’t consider my church to be part of the “one true church” any more than I recognize yours to be part of the “one true church”.

    Would you consider my baptism valid? If I were to join the LDS church would I need to be re-baptized? Is that because my current baptism is false?

    I happen to know that a high ranking LDS member took communion in a non-LDS setting and was reprimanded for it.

    Most Mormons I know are not asking to have their baptisms be valid in your church. Nor do we wish the right to take Communion at your services. Since we do not offer these to outsiders, we do not expect it from them in turn.

    We non-LDS Christians feel we can and should take Communion and have our baptisms recognized as valid at all Christian churches. If the LDS is a Christian church, why don’t they recognize Christian ordinances done outside of the LDS church?

  5. Like Catholicism of old, we believe these ordinances cannot be binding before God without proper priesthood authority.

    And yes, this authority is something that is, according to Mormons, exclusively held by our Church.

    I don’t think we’ve been around long enough, or been engaged seriously by other churches enough to have reached the point where we are making concessions similar to those of the Vatican. I understand that Catholics do accept Protestant baptisms to some extent correct?

    I confess I’m a bit ignorant on the subject.

  6. I am speaking from the traditional RLDS view here (NOT the modern Commmunity of Christ view), so one of my LDS brothers may need to say something if I fail to capture the view of the LDS adequately.
    I believe that we are defining “one true church” in different ways. Your view holds that it is possible for believers to be in different denominations, but still the same one true “church.” The LDS and the RLDS believe that the fullness of the gospel is contained in one true church.
    Your baptism is valid for you! You have a valid Christian baptism. Yes, you would need to be rebaptized, but I would not use the word “false” to describe your baptism. Why doesn’t the LDS church recognize Christian ordinances done outside of the LDS church? It all has to do with the concept, “Fullness of the Gospel.”

  7. Problem Number 1:

    Evangelicals and Mormons define “Church” differently.

    Evangelicals (correct me if I’m wrong) define the “Church” as the collective “body of Christ.” It’s basically the entire community of the believers, or “Christians” if you like. Those who have accepted Christ as LORD and Savior. As long as that requirement is met, you are a part of the “Church.” Essentially, we all represent different parts of the body of Christ. This is why there is room in “the Church” for so many denominations. Each fulfill their own unique function. Just as a body has hands and feet and arms, and shoulders… so to does the Church include Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Unitarians, and so forth. Thus baptism into any one denomination is easily accepted as baptism into the entire body.

    Is this correct?

    Mormons have an utterly different view of what “the Church” means. The Mormon definition of “Church” (capital “C”) can be said in one word:

    Priesthood.

    It is the structures of authority and authorization outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants that comprise the “Church” in Mormon belief. Without the authority, you have no “Church” in the capital “C” sense, but merely a lower-case “church.”

    Christ may love Lutherans. He may be pleased with their work and their community. But, in the Mormon view, He nonetheless requires all to accept the one authorized baptism offered within the Mormon Church. Either you accept this baptism in this life, or in the next, or not at all. If not at all, a person cannot receive full exaltation (the Celestial Kingdom).

    This is a critical divide between us.

    Protestantism is founded on a rejection of the very authority that Mormons are trying to re-assert. And Mormonism is, at its heart founded on a rejection of “free-form” worship. In this sense, I would agree with Dando that Mormonism is, at it’s core character, less tolerant than Protestantism. All forms of worship may be righteous, may be good, may be useful to a Mormon. But only one form is ultimately sufficient – the one re-established by Joseph Smith.

    It’s probably going to take a lot of work to effectively bridge this divide between our faiths.

  8. Evangelicals (correct me if I’m wrong) define the “Church” as the collective “body of Christ.” It’s basically the entire community of the believers, or “Christians” if you like. Those who have accepted Christ as LORD and Savior. As long as that requirement is met, you are a part of the “Church.” Essentially, we all represent different parts of the body of Christ. This is why there is room in “the Church” for so many denominations. Each fulfill their own unique function. Just as a body has hands and feet and arms, and shoulders… so to does the Church include Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Unitarians, and so forth. Thus baptism into any one denomination is easily accepted as baptism into the entire body.

    Is this correct?

    Yes. Correct.

    Protestantism is founded on a rejection of the very authority that Mormons are trying to re-assert.

    Not quite. Protestantism wasn’t founded in an effort to reject authority. As a result of its founding, it eventually rejected the supposed authority only found in the Pope.

    I don’t think you are asserting this, but if Mormonism was JUST about Priesthood, then Joseph Smith would have just started a campaign to re-unite under the Pope. Their line of priesthood succession is MUCH stronger than the LDS church’s, they can go all the way back Peter.

  9. I happen to know that a high ranking LDS member took communion in a non-LDS setting and was reprimanded for it.

    What do you mean by “high ranking” and who was he reprimanded by? If high ranking = local leaders and he was reprimanded by a local leader, I’d have to say that was an isolated event. I have never been told to not take communion at another Christian church by anyone (I was told once that I couldn’t take communion at an Episciple Chruch though). I have also witnessed non-LDS Christians on many occasions taking the sacrament in our meetings. In fact, my mission president specifically told us that our investigators could take the sacrament if they choose to.
    I have no doubt that there are a few members that would balk at letting non-LDS take the sacrament or participating in non-LDS communions, but I have never heard this preach against by the LDS Church itself.

    If the LDS is a Christian church, why don’t they recognize Christian ordinances done outside of the LDS church? Would you consider my baptism valid?

    The problem here is that the LDS Church doesn’t recognize the priesthood authority of the person that baptized you. So your baptism is not valid for the purpose of salvation from an LDS viewpoint. But I don’t think you believe it is valid for salvation either. It sounds like most non-LDS Christians just think it is a nice thing to experience for those that want to do it. Is that right?

    I would be interested in knowing if the Catholic Church accepts ordinances performed outside of its priesthood authority, given the Pope’s latest announcement that the Catholic Church is the only true Christian Church. Does anyone know?

  10. “if Mormonism was JUST about Priesthood, then Joseph Smith would have just started a campaign to re-unite under the Pope. Their line of priesthood succession is MUCH stronger than the LDS church’s, they can go all the way back Peter.”

    Well, I understand that mainline Christians would generally assert this. Mormons would probably beg to differ on the history however. We read the history differently. As for our claim to the Priesthood, it’s based on direct revelation. Mormons claim that Peter, James, and John personally appeared to Joseph Smith as resurrected beings and bestowed the Priesthood upon him. Mormon revelation informs us that the Priesthood line was lost shortly after the death of the original apostles.

    Not that tons of mainline Protestants are accepting that explanation. But it is what it is.

  11. What do you mean by “high ranking” and who was he reprimanded by?

    It was someone who speaks publicly on a nation wide scale on behalf of the LDS church and he was reprimanded by those that lead the church at the global level.

    I can assure you that if President Hinckley went to a Presbyterian church and took communion it would be a BIG deal. Likewise if a nationally recognized Protestant took the sacrament at an LDS ward it would be a BIG deal. You would hear about it in the news (as far as those sorts of things make the news).

    As far as I know, the Catholic church recognizes Protestant baptisms.

  12. As far as the Catholic Church goes, I taught in a Catholic church school for a year, and I was NOT allowed to take Communion. When I went up to the Priest with my students, I was required to make an “X” across my chest with my arms, and the Priest would then give me a blessing. I have a Really hard time believing that the Catholic Church would accept Protestant baptisms, because that would mean they would have to let them take Communion, wouldn’t it? What would be the point of accepting Protestant baptisms, if you were unwilling to give Protestants full communion?

  13. Oops, I didn’t clarify something. I converted to conservative Evangelical Protestantism at the age of 21, from the RLDS church. My tenure at the Catholic School was LONG after this, the Catholics viewed me as your typical run-of-the-mill Protestant, they were not denying me Communion on the basis of my former status in the RLDS church.

  14. Pingback: Ahhh, por eso es que no somos cristianos « Porque con sus labios me honran…

  15. As an Evengelical Christian it is my responsability to be there and witness to those that God puts into my life. However, I do not have any desire to go to a Morman Church because of the fact that it takes 10 positive things to happen in a persons life to make up for 1 negative thing. The bible says in Revalations not to take away from this book nor add anything to it. The Mormans added 4 books and justify that by saying “that was talking about adding or taking away from Revalations and that was already done by adding other books into the bible.” Let them do what they want to do, but be there for them when they are ready. Lead by example!

  16. What I don’t get is why folks are always calling us “Mormans.” If anything, given the whole polygamy thing, you’d think they’d call us “Morewomans.”

    Badum CHING!

    (Remember, tomato throwing is not Christlike.)

  17. Mormans added 4 books and justify that by saying “that was talking about adding or taking away from Revalations and that was already done by adding other books into the bible.”

    Well, I think they have a very valid point. Revelations was not always the last book of the Bible. It’s just a different way of interpreting the verse.

    I’m not sure what the whole “Morman” thing is either. Is it an attempt as some kind of insult that I’m not getting or just bad typing. I’ve seen it before on the web so I’m not sure.

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